The June issue of The Economist has a lead article titled “Towards the end of poverty.” Among the key points made in the article is that gradually the world is making progress toward raising a defined minimum level of living wages to something more in line with developed countries. As more countries join the global community and take part in the benefits of developed economies, everyone rises. Now, there are many more granular, micro-level arguments that can be made about widening gaps between the more wealthy and middle-class, but the point of the article was that those in the world with living conditions that were extreme poverty are decreasing.
This got me thinking: how long will it be before “developing” countries become “developed” and overall living conditions begin to approach those of current and long-time developed ones? What would this new fully developed world look like? How would a global citizenry all wanting and needing similar “developed” things function? Think about it. In the past 15 years China has grown in power and stature incredibly and (though opinions rightfully vary per issue) its citizens have benefitted along with this growth. More middle-class, less poverty (overall), increased numbers of educated, and increased life expectancy levels in general (baring pollution issues) . Similar exploding growth is happening in India with Africa likely to be next. So, how many places on earth in 2013 are left that are considered “developing”? Interestingly, there is not an official index from the UN (need to validate this), but there are some established viewpoints that get published from the World Bank and the IMF. I found some here from Oxford University that says there are ~35-60 depending on who is reporting. So, if all these countries took say twice as long as China (perhaps~ 30+ years) we might have a large global middle class by maybe 2050?
Combine this with the incredible advances in technology and medicine we have made in the past 30 years and you have the making of some of these Hollywood visions of the future like the self driving cars in Minority Report and ever larger cities that form interstate sized connecting metropolises. Fast forward even farther and something like the full planet city of Coruscant in the Star Wars series doesn’t seem all that much of a fantasy. The interesting thing to ponder is not so much the technology advancements but the globally touching life we all might lead in such a future. I guess the question remains: what does this future world look like when everyone becomes developed? What type of interactions will we all have? How will trade be done? How will businesses remain competitive when wages are no longer arbitraged by going to a developing nation? Could earth become one big developed planet?